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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Ed Schultz & bin Laden

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The assassination of Osama bin Laden generated, as it should have, a considerable amount of coverage from all over the political spectrum.  As the discussion progressed, but before hard-hitting questions could be explored, camps inevitably formed.  From my perspective, radio and TV pundit Ed Schultz took a lead position in the “Rah-rah” camp.  This group decided early on that the President and his advisors should be supported, no matter what.  As long as they said things should have been done, that’s pretty much good enough for them.  I don’t consider myself to be a member of this camp.  I continue to have serious reservations about how the operation was carried out and worry about what kind of a precedent was set for future executives, including Barack Obama in the near future.

As many know, Michael Moore and others also don’t consider themselves members of this camp.  For this, they were called out by Schultz and the “Rah-rah” camp.  Schultz called Moore and others who expressed their reservations “intellectual hand-wringers”.  I personally found it offensive that citizens trying to demand answers from a Democratic President were insulted by a Rah-rah-er.  Schultz and other so-called liberals bashed conservatives for years for falling in line behind the Bush Regime and not performing their required duties as American citizens.

So I have some thoughts I wanted to share regarding the latest episode in this book – Denver’s AM760’s David Sirota called Schultz out this morning during his show in response to a video segment by Keith Olbermann last week regarding the Schultz-Moore affair.  I thought Olbermann was morally justified in issuing this Special Comment, as he has been similarly justified in issuing most of his comments in the past.

One of the biggest problems I have with Schultz’s rationale is that a campaign promise does not create legal justification.  I don’t care what Obama said to McCain in his October debate in Nashville about killing bin Laden in Pakistan if the Pakistanis couldn’t or wouldn’t do it themselves.  Now, Obama is free to say whatever he wants.  But because he said it doesn’t by itself make the issuance of the command legal.  Nor does what the Attorney General said in a press briefing afterward make the command issuance legal.  But perhaps the more important question is, should the President have whatever legal authority he thinks he has to issue commands to assassinate anybody inside another sovereign nation?  Who can he order killed; who can’t he order killed?  Democrats in general have not demanded answers of those questions from President Obama, though I think they would have fallen over themselves to demand it of Bush.  What if a future President decides you are a terrorist – should you be assassinated after being found guilty in absentia?

I think we now know why Democrats refused to stand up to the Bush Regime’s twisted use of the legal system for 8 years.  They wanted the powers Bush was accumulating for the executive for themselves.  I will note that there were voices, mine included, that speculated the lack of attention by Democrats was for this reason.

Another insulting question that Schultz asked of Sirota was, “What side are you on?”   Are you kidding me?  This isn’t about which sports team to root for.  And don’t get me wrong – Sirota regularly praises callers who are “on his side”.  But to the point, precedent matters.

Moreover, what “war zone” is Ed (and by extension, Obama and his Attorney General) talking about?  Are we at war with Afghanistan?  How about Iraq?  I sure as hell don’t remember Pakistan being thrown into the Afghanistan disaster, otherwise known as Authorization To Use Force.  When did Congress declare war against Pakistan?  If another country sent military units into American airspace and assassinated someone residing here, we’d shit ourselves.  That is an act of war – against the Pakistanis – and not against any terrorist or terrorism.

And enough with the “Miranda rights” argument already.  It’s a strawman.  American police weren’t involved in the Pakistani raid.  We either believe in the justice system of our country or we don’t.  We either believe that laws matter or we don’t.  We can’t ignore laws when it seems convenient to do so.

Lastly, Obama said in his “60 Minutes” interview post-assassination that anybody who didn’t think it was a good thing that bin Laden was assassinated should have their heads examined.  As his 2012 campaign heats up and sends me material exhorting his accomplishments stained by his repeated capitulations, I think instead it is he who should have his head examined.  I won’t be insulted by anyone – including a Democratic President – and then stupidly fork over my hard-earned money so he can continue to capitulate to corporate interests.  He ordered the assassination of bin Laden.  Whoop-de-doo.  What’s he doing about the extensive list of crises this country currently faces?  Not enough in my book.  You can keep working for the status quo and celebrate faux victories if you want to, but don’t complain one day that things aren’t to your liking.

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